A group of Latino day laborers have founded Cafe Chicago, a cooperative that imports organic coffee from Nicaragua, processes it and sells it creatively – and successfully – to improve their labor, economic and social prospects.
“We were looking for a different way to do business and the model came from Latin America,” Eric Rodriguez said in an interview with Efe.
Immigrants from Ecuador, Colombia and Mexico, along with several Puerto Ricans, pooled their money and know-how to survive in a labor market shaken by economic crisis.
“Cooperatives hold an important place in the countries we come from, and we believe that Cafe Chicago can support us over the long term,” said Rodriguez, the executive director of the Latino Union organization that advocates on behalf of day laborers in the Windy City.
Rodriguez, who has a degree in managing non-profits from Chicago’s North Park University, believes in “fair trade” through cooperatives that favor the “most vulnerable” sectors.